This unusual object - for now designated A/2017 U1 - is less than a quarter-mile (400 meters) in diameter and is moving remarkably fast.
Astronomers are trying to study A/2017 U1 with a number of different telescopes before the object disappears from view forever.
The odd orbit of the object made Weryk realize it was very unusual, and after combining data from observations taken at the European Space Agency's telescope on Tenerife in the Canary Islands, he understood A/2017 U1 for what it was.
"Its motion could not be explained using either a normal solar system asteroid or comet orbit", Weryk said. But with the combined data, everything made sense.
"This object came from outside our solar system".
In a statement, the manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Paul Chodas, talked about how long scientists have been waiting to see an object coming from another interstellar space. "It is going extremely fast and on such a trajectory that we can say with confidence that this object is on its way out of the solar system and not coming back".
Such a velocity earned by itself makes scientists know A/2017 U1 is a visitor from another interstellar space. From the direction of the constellation Lyra, it approached nearly perpendicular to the ecliptic - an approximate plane of the solar system in which the planets and most asteroids orbit the sun - thereby avoiding any encounters with the eight planets during its inward journey.
According to NASA, the small body passed between Mercury and the sun on September 2, making its close approach to the sun about one week later.Читайте также: Anti-LGBTQ KY judge Mitchell Nance resigns
A/2017 U1 made its closest approach to Earth on October 14, coming within 15 million miles (24 million kilometers) of us - about 60 times the Earth-moon distance.
CNEOS scientists subsequently analyzed its past and future trajectories, discovering it came from the direction of the constellation Lyra at a speed of 15.8 miles (25.5 km) per second and is headed on a one-way journey out of the solar system toward the constellation Pegasus, now traveling at 27 miles (44 km) per second.
"We have long suspected that these objects should exist, because during the process of planet formation a lot of material should be ejected from planetary systems".
While it certainly looks as if the small object comes from outside of the solar system, it's still possible that A/2017 U1 has a more common origin.
The small body has been assigned the temporary designation A/2017 U1 by the Minor Planet Center (MPC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where all observations on small bodies in our solar system - and now those just passing through - are collected.
"This kind of discovery demonstrates the great scientific value of continual wide-field surveys of the sky, coupled with intensive follow-up observations, to find things we wouldn't otherwise know are there", MPC Director Matt Homan stated.
Since this is the first object of its type ever discovered, rules for naming this type of object will need to be established by the International Astronomical Union. "It's always been theorized that such objects exist - asteroids or comets moving around between the stars and occasionally passing through our solar system - but this is the first such detection". Some more data-crunching and analysis is still needed to confirm the interstellar nature of the object, which could be a comet or an asteroid.
Recognizing it had an unusual orbit, Weryk contacted fellow IfA graduate Marco Micheli, who then imaged the object using the European Space Agency's (ESA) Canary Islands telescope on Tenerife.При любом использовании материалов сайта и дочерних проектов, гиперссылка на обязательна.
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